Edition of The Hobbit featuring handwritten correction sells for £60k

Rare first edition of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit featuring handwritten spelling correction sells for £60,000

  • Book is one of only 1,500 printed in 1937 with spelling error on the book’s cover
  • Printers corrected the misspelling of Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll by hand
  • Carroll is known to have proofread Tolkien’s early works and real name is in notes
  • Hammer went down at £46,000 which, with premiums, brought total to £59,800

A rare first impression edition of J.R.R Tolkien’s classic children’s book The Hobbit which features a handwritten correction has sold for a whopping £59,800.

The sought-after copy was one of the first ever printed and includes original maps and illustrations by the author.

It is adorned with a wraparound cloth depicting the iconic dark blue mountains and deep-green forests of Tolkien’s fantasy world.

The family who sold it were completely unaware of its true worth until a valuer visited their home in Dorset and spotted it on a dusty bookshelf.

Only around 1,500 first impression copies were printed in 1937 making those which come to auction highly collectable.

This rare first impression edition of J.R.R Tolkien’s classic children’s book The Hobbit which features a handwritten correction has sold for a whopping £59,800 at an auction in Dorset

This one was sold at Duke’s Auctioneers, Dorchester, Dorset, for a hammer price of £46,000, with premiums taking it to £59,800, to a buyer in the US.

The back flap of the cover contains a misspelling of Reverend Charles Dodgson in the book’s notes, better known by his pen name of Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The famous error meant printers had to draw a tiny line, by hand, through the errant ‘e’ on every single copy. 

Dodgson was known to proof read Tolkien’s early work and only first editions of the Hobbit bear the correction to his name.

Rufus Bird, head of sale at Duke’s, said: ‘This result shows how much demand there is not only for Tolkien’s works but also for unseen works fresh to the market.

‘The vendors had no idea they had such a valuable book on their shelves until a Duke’s book consultant carried out a routine valuation at their house in Dorset.

The book (right) is one of only 1,500 editions printed with an error – the misspelling of Charles Dodgson also known as Lewis Carroll who used to proofread the early works of Tolkien (left)

‘They don’t know how the book came into their possession, but it is tempting to speculate that they acquired it because Tolkien regularly spent holidays in nearby Lyme Regis close to the family home.

‘It is also possible the family were given it by a distant relative, Maurice Evan Hare, a prodigious writer of limericks.

‘They were delighted and flabbergasted at the result. They couldn’t believe the book with a slightly tatty dust jacket had just sold to an overseas buyer for over £50,000’.

J.R.R Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, his first work, during his time as a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford.

He also designed the original dust jacket and illustrations for the novel, including maps of his fantasy universe and a picture of Smaug the dragon.

The children’s story was published to huge critical acclaim and has since been published in over 60 languages.

He later wrote his largest work, The Lord of The Rings, as a sequel to The Hobbit between 1937 and 1949.

Tolkien passed away in Bournemouth in 1973 aged 81.

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